Yes, I have been quiet for a while. Apologies, working too many hours and not sleeping enough. Disappointing really as I have watched some blinding films recently, that I’d like to mention to you, short mentions / reviews below.

– But hey! The real news is that we have been listed in the TOTAL FILM ‘Movie blogs you might have missed’ listing on page 5! in the horror section. Nice. A little recognition always helps. Thanks very much!

Films watched recently:

Dead snow poster

DEAD SNOW – This Norwegian low budget CG comedy horror splatter fest had an entertaining poster and tag line. It’s just a shame that the predictable story line, about a group of students staying in a remote cabin who run afoul of some undead SS zombies, never really lives up to the marketing. In fact i only sat through it all to prove my initial feelings wrong. It failed.

It’s a shame as it could just be a bad translation, or the fact that Norwegian comedy doesn’t travel well, which made every line of dialogue and performance one of painful imitation; paying tribute to American cinema and failing to eclipse the genius of such comedy horror writing as SCREAM or low budget UK fare like FREAK OUT or really out-there flicks such as FREAKED. You have the usual separate-the-herd-and-pick-them-off-one-by-one kills; the spooky warning from the local – as in AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON, and the found object that sets off the chain of events ala EVIL DEAD.

I also don’t usually tolerate CG gore; mainly as it is very easy to throw around, but just doesn’t seem to have the visceral impact of the real ‘ fake’ claret. So the fact that I didn’t warm to the cast, care about the characters enough to hate them and want them dead, or want them to pull through, and that the story seemed to be missing some important gag setups and plot points, meant that the whole experience was just fragmented and bitty.

It really irked me and seemed to stink up the room for some reason, right from the first minute of the film; and didn’t do anything to wipe away the foul smell of rehashing a zillion other [better] walking dead films, before the thankful ending. It’s a shame as I usually like Scandinavian cinema.

Growth movie posterGROWTH – this US low budget body horror flick, about genetically engineered parasites running amok on a small island off the cost of America, surprised me and proved to be very entertaining and impressed me with its innovative use of twists and turns; although it still had moments of inevitable unoriginality, it definitely made me want to watch it again – especially if there was a very much deserved big budget remake.

The film sets the scene very efficiently, via the use of stylish montages, as genetic experiments, to train parasites to alter human DNA to fight disease, inevitably backfire; the end result is only contained by the salt burning effect of the sea water killing any attempt to get off the island. Cue the inevitable re-habitation of the island and what happens to a bunch of mainlanders who decide to holiday there.

If you can forgive the low to no budget roots and the fact that the critters seem like very obvious rip-offs of the ‘shitweasels’ in DREAMCATCHER, then you are in for an entertaining ride. Especially as the critters have some new tricks up their slimy sleeves. Also when we are treated to the positive effects of the altered Human DNA, when the character of Justin (Christopher Shand) goes from weedy and sickly to that of a super hero zombie. There were a few obvious no-nos, day for night shoots and bad continuity etc, but all in all a surprising worthwhile rental.

The all too brief Extra on the DVD hinted at some of the unusual ways that they sourced underwater shots and old school low budget ways to film flying worms etc. Would be a great film school segment to see demo’d.

InfestationINFESTATION – This is one film that almost lives up to the DVD cover (if you can forgive the tennis racket. You get horror, comedy, action and an innovative if a little predictable tale of a worthless slacker having to save mankind from an alien bug infestation, that threatens to mutate the human race and consume us all.

When Cooper made his way to the office, he didn’t expect the day to end up with him getting fired, meeting the girl of his dreams and then having to save her and the human race.  Nor did he expect to have to fight off a sex crazed needy reporter, to resolve his issues with his survivalist father (Ray Wise of TWIN PEAKS and REAPER fame) or avoid 4 foot long bugs.

This film also has its fair share of CG bugs and splats. However the effects are very effective on the whole and do not detract from the entertaining story and inevitable gory goings on. This is one film that I will definitely be watching again.

Into the wild posterINTO THE WILD – Completely atypical to the other films I am mentioning here, this film is a very special piece of cinema that appropriately reflects the human condition – that of testing how serious you need to be in order to be true to your ideals, fight for your freedom and live with the environment, rather than follow the same path as the rest of mankind.

INTO THE WILD tells the story of a student and athlete who jacks it all in, donates or burns all of his money in order to go and live in Alaska; encountering a series of characters who all influence him in some way. It is a very slow burn, but a beautiful flame; featuring some great cinematography and some believable performances in order to craft a powerful and lasting experience. Well worth a view.

The Gray man poster

THE GREY MAN – this tale of Albert Fish is beautifully shot / colour graded; however, the film never really explores the depths of this fascinating paedophile and cannibal character enough for my liking. Instead it chooses the more TV story and factual detective story treatment of how hey came to eventually catch the man who purportedly ate an ten year old girl named Grace Budd.

It was quite a revelation to me, some of the acts of self harm that he performed on himself and presented a very different and factually correct character than I had read about many years before. However, I just felt that the whole affair felt a little wasted and that it could have been handled better, such as the ED GEIN film for instance, for a more disturbing treatment; especially as here is plenty of very real and visceral horror in the subject matter to dwell on. But it is still worthy of a view, for those familiar with other serial killer biopic movies.